As influenza is spread from person to person, the surest way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure to infected people. According to Flu.gov, frequent hand washing and avoidance of contagious people are effective in reducing the spread of influenza, as are certain antiviral medications.
Avoiding contact with contagious people prevents exposure to the influenza virus. This is not always possible as some people with the flu can be contagious without showing obvious signs of infection, which is why frequent hand washing is important, according to Flu.gov. Washing hands in warm water with soap removes much of the infectious material that may settle on them during normal activities. Coughing and sneezing expel infectious droplets from the mouth and nose, and people who cover their sneezes and coughs with their hands can easily spread the virus to others through casual contact and contact with objects. Soap and water kill viruses as they spread this way, reducing the risk of infection.
Antiviral medications are available and safe for most people. Some, such as prescription antivirals, can be useful for fighting the flu after symptoms appear, while others, such as an annual flu vaccine, may altogether prevent the spread of the flu, according to Flu.gov.